Episode 257. The Marvelous Marvis Martin

Episode 257. The Marvelous Marvis Martin



I have been juggling a number of brand new episode ideas for the coming weeks, but when I discovered that Sunday April 7 was the birthday of Marvis Martin, one of my favorite sopranos, I put all those ideas on the back burner and eagerly put together this birthday tribute to a singer who not only is celebrated as possessing one of the most beautiful voices of her generation, but who has also had a long, successful, and unconventional career. For whatever arbitrary reason, Marvis Martin made only a handful of major label recording releases, but, for us lucky persons who live in the age of YouTube, there are a growing number of gorgeous live recordings available that feature this artist in her prime. In some ways she reminds me of Veronica Tyler, whose career I charted in a popular episode of the podcast a few months ago. In the case of the highly respected and frankly marvelous Marvis Martin, we are able to personally present her with the flowers that she so richly deserves. I have curated a wonderful setlist today of mostly live material that includes representative selections from each of the platforms on which her career was focused: opera, concert, and recital, everything from Mozart and Handel to Copland, Rorem, and Barber; from selections from Porgy and spirituals, to Tchaikovsky, Strauss, and Korngold. My dear friend Jerry Hadley appears as her duet partner in a rare live Idomeneo performance and conductors Georg Solti, Henry Lewis, Vladimir Ashkenazy, James Levine, Charles Mackerras, Eve Queler, and Libor Pešek, among others, support this magnificent singer from the podium.

Here is a link to Kenneth Overton’s Zoom interview from 2021 with the woman of the moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3gCWVVUX80

Below, with Kenneth’s permission, are several screenshots from his 2021 live interview with Marvis Martin.


All tracks feature Marvis Martin, soprano

Marvis Martin (center) with her mother (L) and Leontyne Price (R)

Gustave Charpentier: Depuis le jour (Louise). James Levine [live from the White House 18.IX.83, introduced by James Levine and Leontyne Price]

Henry Lewis

George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward: Summertime [reprise] (Porgy and Bess). Henry Lewis, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir [live Amsterdam 03.X.87]

Jean-Jacques Kantorow

Traditional Auvergne, arr. Joseph-Marie Canteloube, arr. for chamber orchestra by Jean-Guy Bailly: La pastrouletta è lou chibalie [The shepherdess and the lad] (Chants d’Auvergne, Series II/3). Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Orchestre d’Auvergne [1992]

James Paul

George Frideric Handel: I know that my Redeemer liveth (Messiah). James Paul, Detroit Symphony Orchestra [live Detroit 1992]

Traditional Spiritual, arr. Edward H.S. Boatner: There’s a Man Goin’ Round Takin’ Names. [live New York 08.XII.81]

Charles Mackerras

George Frideric Handel, Carlo Sigismondo Capece [after Ludovico Ariosti]: Amor è qual vento (Orlando). Charles Mackerras, Orchestra of St. Luke’s [live Carnegie Hall 25.XI.84]

Georg Solti

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Et incarnatus est (Mass in c minor, K. 427). Georg Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra [live Chicago X.85]

Jerry Hadley

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gianbattista Varesco: Ei stesso vien!… Spiegarti non poss’io (Idomeneo). Jerry Hadley, Kees Bakels, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra [Amsterdam 22.XI.83]

Marvis Martin and Gary Ledet

Richard Strauss, Felix Dahn: Wasserrose (Mädchenblumen, Op. 22/4). Gary Ledet [live New York 08.XII.81]

Jeffrey Kahane

Ned Rorem: Psalm 148 [Praise Ye the Lord] (Cycle of Holy Songs). Jeffrey Kahane [live Spoleto 1987]

Jahja Ling

Felix Mendelssohn: Thus saith the Lord: I am He that comforteth (Elijah). Jahja Ling, Cleveland Orchestra [live 1992]

Eve Queler

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky [after Friedrich Schiller]: Agnes’s Arioso (The Maid of Orleans). Eve Queler, Opera Orchestra of New York [live Carnegie Hall 28.II.90]

Vladimir Ashkenazy

Aaron Copland, Emily Dickinson: There came a wind like a bugle (Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson). Vladimir Ashkenazy, Cleveland Orchestra [live radio broadcast, ca. 1985]

James Agee

Samuel Barber, James Agee: On the rough wet grass of the back yard (Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24). Vladimir Ashkenazy, Cleveland Orchestra [1985 radio recording]

Libor Pešek

Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Paul Schott [Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Julius Korngold] (after Georges Rodenbach): Glück, das mir verblieb (Die tote Stadt). Libor Pešek, Minnesota Orchestra [live, unknown date]

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